OneTap Stats screenshot

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AppColony, a Canadian-owned, Calgary-based company launched an app last week that blocks incoming messages from distracting you while driving. Within the first 24 hours of launching the Android version of OneTap, more than 45,000 minutes and more than 35,000 kilometres were driven distraction-free.

Ted Hellard, founder of AppColony, says “OneTap uses built-in technology in smartphones including the accelerometer and GPS to activate the program. When it senses you are driving, OneTap automatically is enabled – blocking pings, rings and buzzes that will take your eyes off the road. As a passenger, you can disable your OneTap feature.”

But it doesn’t just block the text or call, it will send a quick response to the sender to notify them that you are driving and sends calls directly to voicemail. When you park, a list of what you missed pops up. If the text or call has an urgency, the caller is notified to text a special number and a voice will come through your Bluetooth to suggest you pull over to take the call.

It is available free for Androids with the launch for iPhones coming in a few months. A French-language version will follow shortly.

Hellard says the idea for the app came from people on the team at AppColony and the company feels strongly about how it can potentially save lives – so much so, it is offering the basic app for free.

The free version allows the phone owner to set the guidelines, including whether or not the phone goes through the Bluetooth in the car. It also keeps a running total of the time and distance you drive without distraction. There’s a small monthly fee for the parent/teenager version, but it allows the parent to control the app so that the teenager doesn’t turn it off. There is also the capability to monitor where the car goes.

The app is sponsored by Calgary-based insurance company The Co-operators and is already endorsed by Calgary police chief Rick Hanson, who said, “Distracted driving is a huge issue and priority for all levels of law enforcing. The Calgary Police Service supports the use of any technology that discourages drivers from picking up their phones when they’re driving.”

Says Hellard: “The problem is not the phone in the car, it’s the addiction to responding to the phone that is the problem. Using OneTap is like having a personal assistant take the call or text leaving you to do what you are supposed to be doing.”

Source: The Globe and Mail